The Pan-Mass Challenge is always an emotional weekend in so many ways, as we honor family and friends we have lost to cancer, treasure those living through a diagnosis, and celebrate with survivors. I ride in memory of my older sister Debbie, who inspires me daily; her passion for life still shines bright in my heart. 

The PMC, which runs on Aug. 7-8 this year, reminds me how the simple, easy steps we take can lead to life-altering changes and the joy of good health. Despite the steps being simple and easy, we may choose a different path. Only with a clearly defined goal are we likely to stay on track. The PMC’s goal is to raise $52M for cancer research and treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I’m committed to fundraising $4,400 by riding the 100-mile PMC re-imagined 2021 team route. Every single rider-raised dollar goes entirely to Dana-Farber cancer research.

Riding the PMC takes time and commitment. Training in bad weather, challenging hills, flat tires, and bike shorts chafing require resilience (you’re not supposed to wear underwear, by the way). I am deeply grateful to all the people who help me ride the PMC, especially my F.L.A.M.E.S. – Fast Legs and Minds to End Suffering – team members. It is their cycling tips, encouragement, and laughter on the training rides that make hill climbs fun!

Taking the first step towards our personal goals is often the hardest. The cycling routes are always well mapped out and reaching the finish line may appear easy, but appearances can be deceiving. Getting there takes commitment and resilience.

Don’t let small minds convince you your dreams are too big.

– Anonymous

So, how do we map our goals into action? The first step is to define what they are. According to David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, 80 percent of people say they don’t have goals. Of the 16 percent who do, only 4 percent write them down and fewer than one percent review them on a regular basis. Writing goals down also makes them more specific as you consider how to put your dreams on paper. Research by Edwin Locke demonstrates that specific and challenging goals led to a much higher performance than did having easy or no goals.

Still not convinced of the importance of putting goals in ink? Kohl’s research suggests that people who write down their goals earn up to nine times as much over their lifetime as those without goals. Writing goals down focuses our attention; if you don’t write it down, it will soon be out of sight and mind. A goal is a dream set to paper – ink it!

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